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CALGARY HERALD ARTICLE DEC 2


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I stripped it out and pasted it here.

Enjoy.

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Appetite for AXL: Guns N' Roses frontman continues to fascinate fans, even without any new music

Heath McCoy, Calgary Herald

Published: Saturday, December 02, 2006

The last definitive date was November 21. That was the day the eternally promised Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy was supposed to hit stores.

But absolutely nobody was shocked when the disc was nowhere to be found. In fact, it was laughably predictable -- just another spitball fired from the belligerently kooky world of Axl Rose.

If anything, the G N' R frontman's camp seemed to mock the promise in a press release for the current Chinese Democracy tour, which stated "there are 13 Tuesdays between now and the end of the year." In other words, the album may appear on one of those release dates. Or, it may not.

Since then an off-the-record source from Universal Music told one journalist that the album's release would be delayed until at least February 2007. Later the record company denied any such statement was made.

In truth, it will be infinitely more shocking if and when the record actually arrives. Sure, Rose has been threatening to release his masterpiece (or is it his albatross?) -- now $13 million and at least in a decade in the making -- since 1999. But, if you haven't clued in already, here's the bottom line: Chinese Democracy will come out when Rose is damn good and ready. Will he ever be ready? One gets the sense not even he knows for sure.

It speaks to the enduring appeal of Guns N' Roses that fans and the music press alike still care as much as they do. Despite reports of poor ticket sales in some centres, the Chinese Democracy tour -- which hits Calgary for a sold-out Saddledome gig on Wednesday -- remains the talk of the rock world.

That's a powerful bit of buzz for a band whose only original member is the singer, hasn't released an album of new material in 15 years, and is touring in support of a nonexistent album.

The air of mystery and elusiveness surrounding Chinese Democracy may be a big part of Guns N' Roses continued draw. There's an argument to be made that this near mythical platter has become the most eagerly anticipated album of all time. Fans are hungry for the record and Rose has starved them, continually teasing them with bogus release dates, creating a feeding frenzy of the curious.

It has lead to all sorts of speculation into the mental state of Rose, his spending habits and his plastic surgery choices.

But rocker Sebastian Bach, who has been opening up for Guns N' Roses, swears the singer is at the top of his game, and he defends Rose's actions.

"Listen, the guy hasn't lost his mind," Bach told a reporter recently. "(Rose) is trying to create a record that lives up to Appetite For Destruction, one of the best albums of all time, and that's taken a long time. . . . He doesn't explain that to me because he doesn't need to. It's his album and his art."

The mythology and anticipation that has built up around Guns N' Roses wouldn't exist if not for the band's enormous impact when they exploded onto the scene in the late '80s with Appetite For Destruction. At a time when the slick MTV-saturated landscape was dominated by the pious, pure-hearted likes of U2 and the tame, glossy chick metal of Def Leppard and Bon Jovi, G N' R brought a genuine, much-needed sense of danger back to the rock world.

Appetite was one of the decade's best albums. A raw slab of blues-based hard rock meets punk fury, it was vicious and nihilistic on the surface, but desperately romantic at heart. They followed it up with a handful of uneven albums that contained enough standouts to maintain momentum.

Meanwhile, their increasingly chaotic ways both internally and in public kept fans transfixed. Who would leave the band next? Who would wind up in jail? Where would they provoke the next riot? Who would OD?

And then, around 1994 they disappeared, retreating into the studio to begin recording their first album of original material since the dual Use Your Illusion discs of 1991.

That album, eventually entitled Chinese Democracy, has yet to see the light of day. In the process of recording it, perfectionist Axl has managed to fire or drive away all the original band members, including his key creative foil, guitarist Slash. He has since replaced them with a revolving door of musicians, including at one point a masked axe-slinger who wore a bucket of KFC on his head, named, appropriately enough, Buckethead.

All the while, the singer continued to work and rework Chinese Democracy.

Perhaps the only comparable scenario is to Smile, the Beach Boys' followup to Pet Sounds. Brian Wilson began recording that album in 1966 and had a mental breakdown in the process, finally shelving the thing until 2004. But by then, the public had long since given up on the record.

Other albums had been hotly awaited and way too long in the making -- the followups to Michael Jackson's Thriller and Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral, for example. But Jackson and NIN's Trent Reznor made fans wait five years while they tinkered -- not 15.

It's interesting to consider that in this time, six albums of new material have been released under the name Tupac Shakur since the hip-hop hero's death a decade ago.

In a 1999 issue of Spin magazine, rock writer Marc Spitz suggested that "the longer (Axl) stays away, the larger his legend grows." But now, the reclusive wildman is back in the public eye. He's been seen living it up at trendy hotspots, even getting in a fight with Tommy Hilfiger in a New York City nightclub back in May. He was also a presenter at this year's MTV Music Awards. And he's been on a full-fledged world tour since May, playing to mixed reviews. Still, the buzz has yet to wane.

Unlike in 2002 when a tour was aborted after Axl failed to appear for a couple of shows, sparking a riot in Vancouver, the singer has actually gone through with his current sojourn. For the most part anyhow. There was that cancelled show in Portland last month, where Axl pulled the plug when told he wasn't allowed to drink alcohol onstage.

In a mock review written for Chinese Democracy in May by Spin magazine's Chuck Klosterman, the writer stated that after all this buildup there's only one way for Chinese Democracy "to avoid utter and absolute failure. It needs to be the greatest rock album ever made."

Pretending to have heard the disc, Klosterman riffs: "Had Axl released his album after a silence of, say, 11 years and two months (at a cost of, say, $11.5 million), Chinese Democracy would be an undeniable masterpiece, but considering the circumstances, some of this work seems shoddy."

Will Klosterman's satirical prediction come true? Can Axl Rose possibly live up not only to his own monumental reputation, but also the impossible expectations he's created for this album? And if he doesn't, will his legend finally be deflated?

Only time will tell. Or, if Axl keeps going back to the drawing board, maybe it won't.

hmccoy@theherald.canwest.com

© The Calgary Herald 2006

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It was never officially denied

Dude, I know my shit.

Merck said the Rollingstone picked the wrong Tuesday (the 21st). So yes, it's as official as it gets.

Actually RS picked the right tuesday, Merck even kinda implies it himself in the interview. It's just that it wasn't the right tuesday anymore when the interview came out.

21/11/06 - The Lost Release Date

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